It seems the only way to expand in Santa Monica nowadays is not out, but up. At no other place in the city is there a higher premium for space than the Santa Monica Pier, where a restaurant hopes to be allowed to expand upwards so it can offer its customers rooftop dining.
Romana Pier LLC is building a new restaurant on the Pier and hopes City Hall would be willing to amend the Municipal Code to allow for customer access to a third floor. If ultimately approved by the City Council, the code amendment would “allow roof top structures that constitute a third story if they support roof deck dining.”
The Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss the amendment proposal at its meeting next Wednesday, Aug. 15.
According to City staff, the new restaurant would be built inside the already existing Billiards building on the Pier, a space that was previously used as a cabaret and restaurant.
Submitted plans indicate the current structure would be altered to allow for a raised first floor ceiling height, an expanded mezzanine “to create a full second floor,” and the addition of a roof deck for outdoor dining and ocean views.
“The proposed text amendment would allow restaurants on the Pier to take advantage of the superior views from roof top dining areas,” City staff said. “Dining areas could be incorporated in restaurants on the Pier without taking valuable Pier deck space.”
As it currently stands, the Municipal Code places a maximum story limit on all commercial property located on the Pier.
If the proposed amendment is successful, Pier buildings could be allowed to add a third floor to its respective structures.
“Buildings on the Santa Monica Pier may be three stories in height provided that the third story is comprised of structures that support roof top dining, … restrooms, server stations, elevator lobby areas, and service/storage areas,” the amended code would read.
If third floor roof top dining is allowed, the area dedicated to that dining space would not be allowed to exceed 25 percent of the total roof area. Further, the total building height cannot “exceed the maximum height of the district,” according to the proposed text amendment.
The maximum allowable height for buildings in the Pier’s zoning district is 30 feet.
“In addition, a new roof deck dining area, ground floor outdoor dining patio and a second floor outdoor dining balcony are part of the approved layout,” City staff said. “The restaurant’s outdoor dining areas, including the new roof deck, occupy approximately 26 percent of the total restaurant floor area. The roof deck dining is accessed from the interior of the restaurant space.”
According to staff, “the proposed amendment is consistent in principle with the goals, objectives, policies, land uses and programs specified in the adopted General Plan” as well as with the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE).
The Planning Commission’s Wednesday meeting will be held at Council Chambers in City Hall.